Lucy Wilton gives her advice for a low-cost Reading Week getaway
With reading week fast approaching, plenty of you will want to take advantage of the opportunity for a much-needed getaway. However, our tight student budgets can make the task of finding the perfect escape seem almost impossible. But fear not, it’s still possible to find some last-minute bargains, and these handy travel hacks and money-saving tips aim to show you how in just five simple steps.
Having no specific destination in mind can actually make the task of finding a last-minute break a whole lot easier. Why not be spontaneous and consider visiting somewhere you’ve never been before? There are plenty of cheap, up and coming European cities out there waiting to be discovered, such as Prague, Krakow, and Budapest. Not only are these places inexpensive in terms of going out, with the average price of bottle of beer being just £1.38 in Budapest, but the cost of travelling to these places is also extremely cheap. With EasyJet, flights to Prague are available from as low as £29.49.
For a student, swanky 5* hotels are almost certainly out of the question. There are, however, many cheaper alternative types of accommodation you might not have even considered, most notably ‘couch-surfing’. This increasingly popular service allows budding travellers to stay with willing homeowners in a variety of exciting cities for free, not only allowing them to experience the city like a local, but also giving them the opportunity to make lifelong friends. House-sitting is another option not to be dismissed. Looking after an old lady’s cat for a week in return for free accommodation in the centre of Berlin is more than a fair deal! To become a house-sitter you’ll need to sign up (often for a small fee) to a dedicated site online such as trustedhousesitters.com.
Don’t necessarily travel by plane
Of course it’s often the quickest and most convenient way to travel but it can also be a lot more expensive last minute. Why not take a coach instead? Companies such as Megabus and National Express offer some brilliant last-minute travel deals, with a one-way ticket to Amsterdam costing as little as £15. Even though your journey will take that little bit longer, you could end up saving hundreds of pounds, which would be better spent elsewhere.
See what’s free
Before you go, see what attractions you can visit for free or if there are any free events due to take place during your trip. In most cities there will be museums, art galleries and historical attractions which can be enjoyed free of charge, allowing you to experience the local culture without breaking the bank. Additionally, many cities now offer pre-paid passes, such as the Paris Visite and Berlin Pass, allowing you entrance to popular tourist attractions and the unlimited use of public transport. These are well-worth the investment, as they often allow you to skip the ridiculously long queues at famous attractions and offer you exclusive discounts to local restaurants.
Although an exciting part of any holiday is getting the chance to sample the local cuisine, meals out can often be expensive, eating significantly into your budget. However, there are ways you can keep your food bill down such as by: asking the locals what restaurants are best value for money, having a large breakfast and dinner (this way you can skip the cost of lunch), choosing the vegetarian option on the menu (which is often cheaper), or, if you’re a real penny-pincher, cook for yourself!
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